08:27 PM EDT 04/03/2014
Originally posted 12/20/2012 08:20AM
Daniel Barden of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., wanted to be a fireman when he grew up – only the 7-year-old doesn't get to grow up.
Honoring the first-grader at Daniel's funeral Wednesday at Saint Rose of Lima Church was an honor guard of 100 uniformed firefighters from New York City and Connecticut's Simsbury, New London, Lyme and elsewhere, reports the Connecticut Post.
Their entire number flanked both sides of the driveway of the church and stood at attention as Daniel's grief-stricken family rode by in the funeral procession. Bagpipes played "America the Beautiful."
Daniel, who played soccer and swam on the Newtown Torpedoes swim team, received a fireman's funeral.
Originally posted 12/19/2012 09:00AM
Newtown, Conn., saw six more funerals and remembrances on Wednesday, including services for the beloved Dawn Hochsprung, Sandy Hook Elementary School's principal, who lunged at her assassin, and heroic teacher Victoria Soto, who tried to shield her students as the bullets were flying.
Wednesday afternoon, mourners had a chance to pay respects to Hochsprung at a local funeral home, at the invitation of her family. Her burial will be private.
Daniel Barden, 7, was the first to be buried on Wednesday. The smiley, gap-toothed redhead was described to AP by his mom's co-worker as the type of child "parents want their kids around: warm and wonderful and caring and kind."
Originally posted 12/19/2012 08:00AM
The day before he died, Jesse Lewis, 6, etched a brief, sweet note in the frost on his mom's car door. "I love you," it read simply in remarkably neat first-grade handwriting.
It was the last note she'd ever receive from him, Scarlett Lewis tearfully tells PEOPLE – and thankfully, she caught it on film.
"I said, 'Oh, Jess, I have to take a picture of that,' " she says. "Thank God."
This week, PEOPLE tells Jesse's heartbreaking story and remembers the other lives lost in one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.
Originally posted 12/18/2012 04:00PM
The call came late on Friday night that Newtown, Conn., needed them.
Five specially trained golden retrievers and eight handlers arrived on Saturday to comfort those touched by tragedy, Vida Johnston, director of operations for Lutheran Church Charities's K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs of Addison, Ill., tells PEOPLE.
Since then, they've been on the ground wherever the community needs them. Dogs such as Shami, of Darien, Ill., and Bamabas, of Portage, Ind., are comforting children and adults with cuddles and nuzzles after making the trek to Connecticut. Another dog, Prince, also came from Portage, and Chloe, whose Facebook page says she's "ready to go to work to give a lot of love bright and early," made her way from La Fox, Ill.
Originally posted 12/18/2012 08:15AM
As students in Newtown returned to class Tuesday, James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos were laid to rest.
"Heaven gained an angel today," read a sign outside the funeral procession for Mattioli, 6, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings Friday.
As the vehicle carrying his casket arrived at the St. John's Cemetery in Darien, Conn., after the noon funeral service at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, onlookers wiped away tears as the entire community continued to cope with what amounts to unbearable grief.
Earlier in the day, for a 10 a.m. service, the casket for Rekos, also 6, was also carried into Saint Rose of Lima Church prior to her burial at St. Rose cemetery.
Originally posted 12/18/2012 02:30PM
Even as some sort of routine is being reestablished in Newtown, Conn., after the horrific events of Dec. 14, help for those directly involved is being offered from far and wide.
Counseling services are available through Friday, according to the Newtown Public School District website. Those in need can also call 211.
"We are grateful for all the prayers, thoughts and outpouring of support offered to our community during this difficult time," reads the school district's message.
Originally posted 12/18/2012 11:30AM
As divorces go, the one between Peter and Nancy Lanza appeared to be as amicable as possible under the circumstances, with agreement on generous alimony and custody.
But when the Lanzas finalized their split in 2009, they did have concerns about the care of their then-17-year-old son Adam, according to the pair's divorce mediator.
"The only two things I remember them saying is that she really didn't like to leave him alone and I know they went out of their way to accommodate him," their divorce mediator, Paula Levy, tells the Associated Press.
Originally posted 12/17/2012 03:20PM
Friends and family said goodbye on Monday to two of the 27 victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, both 6, were the first laid to rest.
"Today is extremely emotional," Noah's aunt, Victoria Haller, tells PEOPLE. "My sister-in-law has been pretty much a wreck, which you can imagine. It's the worst thing in the world to lose a child."
Pozner, a loving boy who was inseparable from his siblings, had his services at Abraham L. Green and Son Funeral Home in Farfield, Conn., with his burial at B'nai Israel Cemetery in Monroe, Conn.
The entrance to the funeral home was adorned with white balloons. A large oak tree across from the home was covered with a sign that says, "Our hearts are with you Noah."
Originally posted 12/17/2012 07:20AM
At an interfaith memorial service in Newton, Conn., for those lost in Friday's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, an emotional President Obama told the grieving audience, "We can't tolerate this anymore," and vowed "in the coming weeks I'll use whatever power this office holds" in "preventing more tragedies like this."
As he told the 1,000 people, including the surviving families, as he spoke on the stark stage of Newtown High School Sunday night, the President said, "I can only hope it helps for you to know that you're not alone. … Across this land of ours, we have wept with you."
And he pledged, "These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change."
Noting this was the fourth time in his presidency the nation has had to deal with senseless acts of gun violence, the President said it was "the fourth time we've hugged survivors. The fourth time we've consoled the families of victims.
"There have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children. Much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Originally posted 12/16/2012 04:20PM
This year, 26 families – and an innumerable count of mourning loved ones and strangers alike – will spend the holidays in the shadow of a national tragedy.
An anonymous North Carolina donor contributed 26 Christmas trees – one for each of the 20 children and six adults killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday – for a special tribute.
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